Measles is a serious and highly contagious illness, which can affect adults as well as tamariki.

It spreads very easily through the air by sneezing or coughing, and can also be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces (from an infected person’s nose and throat secretions). If you are not immune to measles you can catch the disease just by being in the same room as someone who has it.


Initial symptoms can include:

  • fever (above 38°C)
  • cough
  • a runny nose
  • sore and watery ‘pink’ eyes

Day 3 to 7 of illness: A blotchy rash which tends to start on your face, behind the ears, before moving down your body. The rash lasts for up to a week.

You can have measles and spread it to others before you feel sick or show any symptoms.

If you catch measles, you’re infectious (can spread the virus) from 4 days before the rash appears and for 4 days after the rash appears.

What to do if you think you have measles

If you think you have measles, it’s important to see a doctor - but ring before visiting to let them know you think you have measles. When you get to the health centre or hospital, stay in the car and call (or if you have someone with you send them in) to say you’ve arrived. This will help avoid spreading the virus in the waiting room.

You can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice (available 24 hours, 7 days a week).

What to do if you may have been exposed to measles

If you think you may have been exposed to measles (as a casual or close contact) or been to a Location of Interest, please read the information in the links below.


The best prevention against measles is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Vaccines are free for tamariki and adults who have not previously received two doses. See the Immunisation link below for more information.